This is another song that I was able to dig up from the proverbial vaults of "Sounds of Japan". As much as I love the hit songs from kayo kyoku and beyond, it's always wonderful when I can come across an unsung gem from the old Canadian Tire tapes.
Folk singer Akira Inaba（因幡晃）wrote and composed this sweet and quiet ballad as one of the tracks on his debut album, "Nanka Ii Wasureta Yo De"（何か言い忘れたようで....I've Forgotten What To Say）which was released in June 1976. "Natsu ni Arigato" may mean "Thanks to Summer" but I think it deserves to be played especially either at sunrise or sunset. With those strings, it can almost be a tribute to the horizon-placed sun. Considering how cold it's gotten here (It was -11 degrees Celsius this morning!), I feel that gratitude to that particular season right now.
Inaba was born in 1954 in Akita Prefecture. In 1975, he won a prize for excellence at the Yamaha Popular Song Contest with "Wakatte Kudasai"（わかって下さい...Please Understand）that would be officially released as his first single early in the following year. To date, he has released 36 singles and 34 albums. Strangely enough, the J-Wiki write-up on the singer also included all of his likes, so to translate from over there: the minyo songs his father sings, his Mom's home cooking, alcohol (although he also likes those tiny yogurt-based Yakult drinks), regional cuisine, going to Hawaii with his family, and diamonds.
As for "Nanka Ii Wasureta Yo De", it cruised right up to No. 2 on the album charts, and became the 10th-ranked album for 1976 and even hung on throughout 1977 to become the 14th-ranked album.